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Home WHO WE ARE Assumptionists Profiles Bro. MATTHEW-MARY OKEREKE, A.A.

Bro. MATTHEW-MARY OKEREKE, A.A.

Bro. MATTHEW-MARY OKEREKE, A.A.

Interviewer - Would you share a bit about your background: family, childhood, early education etc.?

- My name is Matthew-Mary Okereke. I am the third child among four siblings. I was born on May 4, 1986. My father passed on to eternal life in November 1992. This incident changed the trajectory of my family in many different ways. My siblings and I grew up with just our mother who is probably the strongest human God ever created. Although burdened with the onerous task of raising four children without a significant other, our mother raised us up with her head held high despite endless challenges. From our mother we learned that struggling need not necessarily be seen as an irreversible death sentence. With the right attitude, struggling makes one stronger because more often than not, what matters more is not what happens to one but one’s reactions. I had my primary and high school education in Lagos, Nigeria. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the now-called Dominican University, Ibadan, Nigeria.

- Where/how did your Assumptionist roots begin?  Did anyone in particular have a significant impact on your life?

- I first met the Assumptionist online in the first quarter of 2016 whilst working and studying in Rome. While living in Rome, I felt anew the desire to respond to what comes to my mind as God’s call to the religious life and priesthood. Before this period, I had been a professed Dominican for close to six years before leaving the Dominicans in 2012. In a bid to respond anew to God’s call and deeply influenced by my Dominican background, I sought for a new religious family on the internet using two parameters: Augustinian Rule of Life and passion for education. Lo and behold, I found the Assumptionists! A few of my Assumptionist brothers tease me that I found the congregation by mere chance since the abbreviation for our congregation, Augustinians of the Assumption, is “AA” and incidentally appears at the top of most sites promoting vocation. Often, congregations are arranged alphabetically on most internet sites promoting vocations. Beyond simply being a product of chance, I deeply believe that finding the Assumptionists was, in the paraphrased words of Saint John Paul II, a design of Providence rather than a mere coincidence. Although Fr Marcelo Marciel was the first Assumptionist I sent an email to, he transferred my application and discernment process to Fr John Franck who was serving as Assistant to the Superior General during this period.  My discernment program with Fr John Franck was very fruitful. In many ways, I think I am an Assumptionist today and opted to belong to the North American Province of our congregation because of the significant and loving impact of Fr John Franck. His life of faithful witness, dedication to work, clarity of mind, and wealth of wits are second to none.

- Would you share some of your later education and formation memories?
   Do you have any favorite scripture passages?

- When I look back at my period of studies at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), I often wonder how I came out alive and with good grades. While studying full-time at the Angelicum, I was working full-time as an Archaeological Tour Guide with three different companies! While leading tours, I would often study and review my class notes while moving from one point of the tour I was leading to the other. Often, my first scheduled tour of the day started by 12:30 and my classes at the university finished by 12:15. I had less than 15 minutes to appear at work and lead an often-large group of foreign tourists waiting for the 12:30 tour.  Being on time was of the essence for my type of job and excuses were not tolerated. This put me in a constant state of hurried motion. Rest became a luxury I could either not afford or afford at a very high cost because my job fetched me about 8-10 thousand euros per month which was needed to cover my accommodations, school fees, and my other bills. My mother’s oft-repeated truisms were some sort of encouragement during this period: what does not kill you makes you stronger; struggling makes one stronger. During this period, I also found succor in one of my favorite scripture passages: “Your word, O Lord, is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Ps 119:105).

- How have you experienced growth in the living out of your Assumptionist charism?

- One of the many advantages of the Assumptionist charism which I am thankful for is somewhat codified in our Ratio Institutionis. Our Assumptionist charism presents me with “a life that is balanced thanks to priorities and choices that have been well thought out” (RI 116).  In a secular world where priorities have become dreadfully misplaced and making choices which lack any positive moral value have become the new definition of freedom, the Assumptionist charism has become for me a compass of light, love, and trust. With a compass of this sort, it is easy to affirm that I have seen tremendous growth in my life

- What hobbies or other interests do you have?

- I love to read, write, teach, and travel. I am an avid lover of music and art also.


- What is your vision and or hope for the future of the congregation and/or the Church?

- I look forward to a period of quality numerical strength in all the geographical regions of our congregation and renewal in the Church at large. I also hope that our congregation never wavers in embracing “the great causes of God and of man, to go wherever God is threatened in man and man threatened as image of God.”

- Is there anything about you that you would like to share or that would surprise others?

- I find it interesting most times that people see me as athletic but get surprised anyway when they see me doing averagely well at different sports.

 
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